Over the last 50 years, collaborative clinical trials have reduced the number of children dying from pediatric cancer significantly. Unfortunately, certain tumor types have remained resistant to conventional surgical, radiotherapy and chemotherapy combinations, and relapsing and/or refractory disease remains associated with dismal outcomes. Recently, renewed attention has been given to the role for immunotherapies in pediatric oncology. In fact, these combine several attractive features, including (but possibly not limited to) the specificity for cancer cells, potentially in vivo persistence and longevity, and potency against refractory disease. In this narrative review designed for the academic pediatrician, we will concisely review the biological underpinnings behind the immunological therapy of pediatric neoplasms and illustrate the current humoral, cellular approaches, and novel drugs targeting the immune checkpoint, oncolytic viruses, and tumor vaccines. We will also comment on the future directions, challenges, and open questions faced by the field. What is Known: • Cancer immunotherapy drives immune cells and its humoral weaponry to eliminate tumor cells. • This occurs by recognizing antigens ideally expressed only on tumoral, but not normal/healthy, cells. What is New: • Clinical immunotherapy trials have shown responses in children with relapsing/refractory neoplasms. • Novel humoral/cellular immunotherapies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, oncolytic viruses, and tumor vaccines are currently being investigated in pediatric oncology.
European Journal of Pediatrics – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 12, 2017
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